There’s a lot of chatter about digital transformation. In fact, there have been several recently published articles on Forbes on this very topic. People are often unclear about the difference between digital transformation and digital innovation (DI) and the benefit the latter brings to product development. Keep reading to learn more…
There’s lots of chatter about digital transformation. In fact, there have been several recently published articles here on Forbes about the very topic. People are often unclear about the difference between digital transformation and digital innovation (DI) and the benefit the latter brings to product development.
What Is Digital Innovation?
When I talk about digital transformation, I’m referring to the adoption of technologies in the enterprise in order to fundamentally change the way a company does business. By contrast, digital innovation refers to tools, techniques, processes, and cultural changes used to accelerate and improve the way an organization develops and delivers software products. It’s a culture of continuous learning, bringing in new ideas, being willing to try new things and giving everyone an opportunity to participate.
I recently listened to the audio version Michael Abrashoff’s book on leadership called It’s Your Ship and realized that he was an early practitioner of DI precepts. He did this by establishing a trusting culture aboard the USS Benfold that empowered creative thinking, eschewed process for its own sake, and gave each crew member — especially junior ones — a voice in improving their (not his) ship. Continuous learning was the norm, and no one, including him, was above getting feedback from the team on how they could improve. I served on a nuclear cruiser around the same time as Abrashoff, and his refreshing voice would have been a welcome change aboard my ship.
Given today’s rapid pace of business, companies that want a competitive edge need to embrace digital innovation to accelerate their product development. Faster, higher-quality product delivery reduces operating costs, increases the scale of product delivery and shortens the time to market — all of which contribute to a better customer experience.
DI isn’t just a matter of retooling your software design processes; it requires a focus on comprehensive systems engineering best practices. This is especially true in highly regulated industries such as aerospace and life sciences, where changes to a product can have wide-ranging and significant impacts that must be considered at all stages of the product life cycle.